Dates: TBA

The trip of a lifetime awaits as Melton takes you on a 2,300-year journey of Jewish life in Italy with famed Vassar scholar, author, and winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Professor Marc Epstein. We will explore the magic of central and northern Italy using the backdrop of visual art, Medieval and Renaissance culture, and the often-turbulent relationship between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Along the way, we will take in the sites, people, and tastes that make Italy one of the most beloved countries in the world! 
For the itinerary and other details, please see the tabs below. On a mobile device, use the menu icon (☰) to open other tabs.
Please read Melton's comprehensive health policy HERE.
  • Melton travel is open to adults of all ages.

    We are so pleased that you are interested in travelling with Melton! As you may know, Melton provides the educational content for its tours, but is not a travel agency. Gil Travel Agency (“Gil”) is the travel logistics provider for this tour and is responsible for the collection of all deposits and other fees. Because Melton does not collect any travel deposits or fees, it is not responsible for any financial loss associated with a cancellation of this seminar for reasons beyond Melton’s control, including COVID.

    We encourage you to read Gil’s Travel Protection Recommendation thoroughly, advising that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers both “cancellation for any reason” and for “COVID-related” reasons. Even where your destination does not presently restrict travel due to COVID, we still recommend you purchase a policy with such coverage.

    Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to travelling and learning with you.

    The Melton Travel Team

    If you would like to be notified when registration opens, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Price Includes:

    • 12-days/11-nights
    • Meals per the itinerary:

    • Daily breakfast
    • Group dinners (4)
    • Group seudot shlishit (2 – Shabbat afternoon light meals)
    • Group lunches (1)
    • Light afternoon meal and wine tasting at a kosher winery

    • Tips
    • All entrance fees and programs as per the Melton itinerary.
    • Master educator and exceptional guides, artists, and teachers 


    • Learn from some of Italy’s finest scholars and artists
    • Discover hidden themes in Rome’s Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica 
    • Visit a beautiful kosher winery in Siena 
    • Delight in a sunset boat excursion with a celebrated poet in Venice 
    • Enjoy the Palazzo della Ragione medieval market in Padua 
    • Celebrate one Shabbat in Rome and one in Venice


    Note: We will do our best to assist you with extensions both before and after the seminar.

     Not Included:

    • International airfare and personal insurance 
    • Meals not stated above
    • Items of personal nature

    We will be pleased to assist you in any and all flight arrangements, including additional travel plans, through our partners at Gil Travel. Please contact Julian Banegas (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 215-568-6655, Ext. 377) with your flight requests.

  • Wednesday, Day 1: Welcome to Rome

    Exploring the ancient heart of the city

    An orientation tour with Sara Procaccia, an art expert who is fluent in the history of the ancient religions of the Roman Empire and specializes in the contribution of Jews and Jewish culture to Italian culture. The tour will focus on the Roman Forum including:

    Spoils of Jerusalem: Titus' Arch

    The Messiah at the Gates of Rome: The tragedy of the Colosseum

    Opening dinner in the Ghetto

    Evening Program “Reflections of an Italian Jew” – Meeting and discussion with Dora Piperno, entrepreneur, and craftsperson, “Talled di Seta” who has revived the ancient Jewish art of the handwoven silk “talled” (tallis/prayer shawl)

    Evening: Free to explore if still awake

    Overnight: Rome

    Thursday, Day 2: Pagan Empire to Christian Center

    Sara Procaccia guides us among the rare traces of the earliest Jews in Rome: Vigna Randanini Catacombs

    Landmarks of the Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance periods and their Jewish significance

    Their Hadrian/Our Hadrian: Hadrian’s Pantheon and the Jews

    Lunch at the Trevi Fountain

    The Jewish Secrets of The Piazza Navona

    The Campo di Fiori and the Burning of the Talmud

    Sanctum Sanctorum: The Holy of Holies: Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Although there is silence requested in the churches, Professor Epstein will be happy to discuss the artworks — including sometimes hidden Jewish themes and subjects — for those interested any time we are in a space where that is possible.

    Evening: Dinner at leisure

    Optional: From Moses to Moses: A special night tour of the Fountains of Rome with Professor Epstein

    Overnight: Rome

    Friday, Day 3: Jews and Christians: Siblings and Rivals

    Sara Procaccia introduces us to the Mikdash Me’at: The Lesser Sancturary: The Ghetto, Jewish Museum, and Synagogue

    Lunch on own at your choice of delightful little trattorias and osterias of the Ghetto area

    Professor Epstein will explore Michelangelo’s Moses, and Freud’s: The Church of Saint Peter in Chains

    Special meeting with Father Etiene Vetö, the Director of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in dialogue with Professor Epstein

    Optional services at the Great Synagogue, with Professor Epstein

    Shabbat Dinner Together

    Evening: Free to explore

    Overnight: Rome

    Yom Shabbat / Day 4: Jews and Christians: Siblings and Rivals


    Optional services at the Great Synagogue, with Professor Epstein

    Afternoon: Free to explore

    Optional: The Vatican Museums (self-guided)

    Seudah Shlishit and reflection

    Havdalah, then free to explore

    Overnight: Rome

    Sunday / Day 5: Sienese Stories

    … for an exploration of the Siena Cathedral, Piazza del Campo, and the 18th century Siena Synagogue and Jewish Museum to learn about the substantial Jewish community of Siena beginning in the 14th century and the restrictions of the Medici who in 1571 restricted Jewish residence to a ghetto in the vicinity of the Piazza del Campo. The present synagogue was erected in 1786 on the site of the older synagogue.

    Lunch on own in the historic city center (don’t eat too much though…)

    In the Terra di Seta Kosher Winery and Estate, we’ll discuss the production with its owners over cheese, wine, and a light meal.

    Check into the hotel

    Evening: Dinner on own and free evening to explore Florence

    Overnight: Florence

    Monday,Day 6: Renaissance Glory

    Tour with Dr. Paola Barbetti Böhm. Florentine by birth, Dr. Böhm’s passion for both art and history led her to advanced degrees in both fields. She has been guiding in Florence for 22 years, mother of four, trying to figure out how to leave them a better world.

    Churches and Treasures I: Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella and Bargello with Dr. Barbetti Böhm. Professor Epstein will accompany and interpret artworks — including sometimes hidden Jewish themes and subjects.

    Lunch locally on your own, suggestions provided

    Churches and Treasures II: San Marco Convent, Cappella dei Magi, and Medici’ Chapels with Dr. Paola Barbetti Böhm. Professor Epstein will accompany and interpret artworks—including sometimes hidden Jewish themes and subjects.

    Evening: Free to explore

    Overnight: Florence

    Tuesday, Day 7: Jewish Presence / Presents

    Venus and Moses: Special early opening hour tour of the Uffizi and the Accademia with Dr. Paola Barbetti Böhm. Professor Epstein will accompany and interpret artworks — including sometimes hidden Jewish themes and subjects — for those interested.

    Lunch on own in the charming winding streets near the Accademia

    Synagogue and Jewish Museum, tour with Professor Epstein, discussion with Enrico Fink, President of the Jewish Community of Florence, and Rav Gad Piperno, Florence’s Chief Rabbi

    Evening: Free to explore

    Overnight: Florence

    Wednesday, Day 8: The “University of the Jews”

    Orientation to Padova with Fulvia Dallacqua, native of Venice, now living in Padua. She has a degree in Oriental literature and languages and has been guiding for 22 years. She’s a wine connoisseur, practices Voga alla Veneta rowing, and photography. She’s interested in helping people explore new ways of seeing, hearing, and perceiving the city.

    “My son, the Doctor. My daughter, the PhD”: The first Jews at the internationally famous University of Padova

    An Encyclopedia on the Wall: The magnificent Palazzo della Ragione

    Lunch at leisure

    Padova Jewish Cemetery, Synagogue and Museum, meet curator

    Dr. Gina Cavalieri and Rav Adolpho Locci, Chief Rabbi of Padova, who is also a musician of note, with a specialization in Renaissance and later Jewish music.

    Telling a Sacred Story: Giotto’s amazing frescos in the Scrovegni Chapel. Self-guided, Professor Epstein will accompany and interpret artworks.

    Overnight: Venice

    Thursday, Day 9: Ducal Splendor

    Special pre-opening admission to the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica of San Marco, the Golden Altar of San Marco and the Basilica Museum with Dr. Susan Steer, an art historian specializing in Medieval and Renaissance Venice. Susan has an extensive teaching background, lecturing on Italian art for universities in the UK and in Italy. She has also worked as a painting’s researcher at museums in the UK and has published on Italian Renaissance and Baroque art in leading specialist journals. She has lived in Venice for over 20 years.

    Lunch together at Rossopomodoro

    Orientation to Venice with our guide, Luisella Romeo, an active member of the Venice Project for Sustainable Tourism. Luisella was born and raised in Venice. After graduating at the University in Venice Ca’ Foscari in Foreign Languages and Literatures, she had the chance to travel and study abroad. Luisella has always loved art and history; for her, the labyrinth of Venice is a crossroads of human stories to narrate.

    Sunset boat excursion with Dr. Barbara Del Mercato, poet, translator, and project manager for The New Institute for Environmental Humanities at Ca' Foscari University.

    Evening: Free to explore

    Overnight: Venice

    Friday, Day 10: Jewish Persistence and Creativity

    Tour of the historic nearly seven centuries old Lido Cemetery with the head of the Jewish Burial Society Mr. Aldo Izzo. Izzo (born 1931), a retired sea captain who lives on the Lido, has been a guardian and keeper of two historical Jewish cemeteries of Venice for over forty years. His passion and devotion for these sites, predating the Ghetto by more than a century, has made him a beloved member of the Jewish community of Venice and a respected public figure. After featuring in several books, articles, and documentaries, in 2016 he became the protagonist of Israeli artist Hadassa Goldvicht’s multimedia installation ‘House of Life’, that the Israel Museum made its flagship exhibition in Venice on the 2017 art Biennale.

    Lunch on own

    A conversation about the Jewish Community and the Ghetto, its culture and literature, with Professor Shaul Bassi of the Department of English and Comparative Literature, Ca' Foscari University of Venice. Dr. Bassi is a Jewish native of Venice and is the director of the Venice Center for Humanities and Social Change. His work has focused on Shakespeare and post-colonial theory, Bassi has also written about the present environmental and social issues of Venice, as well as the city's history. He is the founder of Beit Venezia, the International Home for Jewish Culture in Venice.

    Evening: Free to explore

    Overnight: Venice

    Yom Shabbat, Day 11: Gems of Art and Culture

    Optional services at the Great Synagogue, with Professor Epstein

    Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia and the Church of the Frari

    Tour Guided by Dr. Susan Steer

    Evening: Optional Havdalah

    Dinner: Farewell banquet together, then free to explore

    Overnight: Venice

    Sunday, Day 12: Breakfast Goodbyes!

    Hotel check-out

    Return flights home



  • Need to Know

    • Group rates are per person based on double occupancy and a minimum of 20 fully paying participants. Should the number of participants drop below the minimum listed above, we may adjust the cost of the trip to reflect the additional expense of operating the program.
    • Tour prices are per person in U.S. dollars. All hotel accommodations, motor coach transportation, special dinners, sightseeing, admissions, luggage handling and the services of local guides, drivers, and the tour guide/educator are included.
    • A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person is due upon registration. If the seminar is cancelled, the registration fee will be refunded. The final balance will be due approximately 2 months before the trip, and will be set by the travel agency.
    • All cancellations must be submitted in writing. Up to 61 days prior to departure: $1,000 per person deposit paid at registration is non-refundable. 60-31 prior to departure: 50% of the trip cost is non-refundable. 30 days or less prior to departure – no refunds. There will be no refunds for unused services.
    • Hotel Accommodations: The tour price includes all hotel accommodations, in hotel rooms with private bathrooms. Our standard is to provide the best available hotels while considering value. Although the level of the accommodations may differ slightly from hotel to hotel, we are committed to your comfort.
    • Meals are included as indicated in the itinerary. Participants can order kosher meals at prices set by our local agents.
    • A Melton educator will be with the group throughout the tour.
    • All gratuities are included.
    • Baggage: The Travel Agent and/or Tour Operator shall not be held responsible for any damage to or loss of luggage/personal items. All damage/loss must be reported at time of incident and documented in writing by local authorities for submission to the insurance company. With regard to airline baggage allowance, different carriers have different regulations for business and coach, please check with your individual carrier with regard to permitted number of pieces, weights and dimensions. The tour operator is not responsible for fees levied by any air carrier for the transport of personal belongings of any kind.
    • Porterage at hotels. Please note that room service is not included.

    Not Included

    • Flights and personal insurance are not included.
    • Personal expenses, including meals not mentioned in the itinerary or drinks during meals, unless specified, or room service.
  • Please note that Gil Travel will obey all protocols/restrictions in place regarding COVID.

    We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. Melton is not responsible for cancellation of this program for reasons beyond its control. Your comprehensive travel insurance should cover both "cancellation for any reason" and "COVID-related cancellation". This latter policy is being offered by a number of insurance companies. We refer you to a list published by Forbes magazine, showing those companies that offer this new policy.

    Please note that such policies may require registration for the policy within 14-21 days of your registration for the seminar.

    Gil Travel recommends RoamRight Travel Insurance.

    For more information on the available plans or to enroll, visit  RoamRight Travel Insurance  or contact RoamRight at 1-866-891-6614 and reference Gil Travel.

    Please Note: To be eligible for the waiver of pre-existing medical condition exclusion, the protection plan must be purchased within 21 days from the time you make your initial trip deposit, the entire non-refundable amount of the trip must be insured, and you must be medically able to travel at the time the premium is paid. However, the travel protection plan itself can be purchased any time prior to departure.

    Additional Information

    • Airline Security Measures: Your name must match the name on your tour reservation and airline ticket, or you may be denied boarding. It must also be exactly as it appears on your passport. Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the date of your return home.
    • If you are traveling from an airport outside the jurisdiction of the U.S., you will need to determine what travel documentation and identification is required for that particular airport.
    • Due to heightened security regulations, certain items such as a metal nail file, pocketknife, cigarette lighter or tweezers, and some liquid, gel, or aerosol items may not be permitted in your carry-on luggage. Please call your airline prior to departure to obtain current information on non-permissible carry-on items and recommended airport check-in times. You may also wish to visit the U.S. Transportation Security Administration website at to obtain more information on acceptable identity documentation and prohibited luggage items.
  • For more information about this tour, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    T: 1–646–921–0747, Ext. 4